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Travel to VL/HCC and PPIG


The conference venue is St. Catharine's College, 1 Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1RL:

St Catharine's is next along the street from the famous King's College, in the centre of the medieval town and historic tourist district of Cambridge. Note that there is no university “campus” in Cambridge - the university is distributed all around the city (really more of a town, with population around 100,000). St Catharine’s is one of 30 colleges. Each college has accommodation on the same site as teaching, dining, and a chapel for religious services. It’s not a hotel - these are medieval buildings, originally created as monasteries (think Hogwarts, if you’ve seen Harry Potter films)! When you arrive at St Catharine’s, you enter the front gate into a “porter’s lodge”, where the porter (a college servant) will direct you to your room, and also point out location of the conference events, in the modern McGrath Centre and auditorium recently built alongside the central courtyard and chapel.

We will be running a registration desk in the McGrath Centre foyer on Sunday 4th September from 4pm-5pm, Monday 5th September from 8am-9am and (for PPIG delegates) Wednesday 7th September from 8:30am-10:45am. If you arrive at other times, we're not very formal - just ask for Alan or Luke!

If you have any questions about your accommodation in the College, please contact the St Catharine’s conference office directly:

Arriving in Cambridge

We recommend coming to the conference by public transport. There is almost no long-term parking in the historic city centre, and none at all on the St Catharine's college site. Cambridge railway station is 1.4 miles from St Catharine's - perhaps slightly too far to walk with luggage, in which case a taxi will take 5-10 minutes. Bus stations are about half a mile from St Catharine's, and it is likely to be easier to walk than to take a taxi, unless your luggage is particularly large.
Long distance buses ("coaches") run by the National Express company stop in Cambridge city centre, 0.6 miles from St Catharine's
Local buses stop at the Cambridge central bus station in Drummer Street

Travel from Airports

You have a choice of five(!) airports for arrival in "London", depending on airline choice and cost, but these are varying distances from Cambridge:
  • The closest airport is London Stansted, approximately 30 minutes by rail or 50 minutes by bus
  • The next closest is London Heathrow, 2 hours by rail (Heathrow Express then via London Kings Cross) or 2.5 hours by bus
  • The next is London Gatwick, 2 hours by rail (via Saint Pancras / Kings Cross) or 4 hours by bus
  • Luton airport has no convenient rail connection, but 2 hours by bus
  • London City airport is mainly intended for commuters to London

Airport Bus

The National Express coach company operates bus stations at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. You can use their website to book tickets in advance. Booking will give you preference on a specific bus over people who haven't booked (and can be transferred to another bus if your flight is early or delayed, but with no guarantee of a seat if the bus is already full). Book your ticket to "Cambridge City Centre", not to the park and ride stations on the outskirts of town.

Train from Airport

There is a fast direct rail connection from Stansted airport to Cambridge. It's fine to buy tickets on arrival. 

For rail travel from Heathrow or Gatwick, you will need to travel in to London, then get to King's Cross Station, from where trains run to Cambridge every 30 minutes (quarter past and quarter to the hour). Many fast trains to Cambridge from King's Cross advertise their final destination as "King's Lynn", with Cambridge as the first or second stop. There are slower trains to Cambridge, advertised as final destination Cambridge, and at times other than quarter past or quarter to. Try to avoid these - they stop at many little places along the way, and can take 90 minutes rather than the 45 minute fast trains.

Routes through London vary: from Heathrow, fastest (and most expensive) is "Heathrow Express" to London Paddington, then underground or short taxi ride to King's Cross. The London Underground Piccadilly line runs direct from Heathrow to King's Cross, but can take a long time (an hour?) and is often crowded. From Gatwick, the relatively expensive "Gatwick Express" runs direct to Victoria Station, after which you need to take underground or longer taxi ride to King's Cross. Alternatively, slow trains stopping at Gatwick on their way from Brighton to Bedford will take you to St Pancras station, across the road from King's Cross. From London City airport, the Docklands Light Rail line will get you somewhere close to King's Cross ...

Limo / Taxi from Airport

Don't consider taking an official London Black Cab from Heathrow to Cambridge - it would cost a fortune! There are several Cambridge Limo/Taxi companies that will arrange pre-booked pickups at Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton or Stansted (the driver will meet you at airport arrivals). Costs tend to be around 100 pounds from Heathrow, around 50 pounds from Stansted. Expensive, but probably worth it if you are arriving at a strange time of day or can't face public transport. If two or three are sharing, this could easily be cheaper than the Heathrow Express or Gatwick express journeys. The one I use is Airport Lynx - they offer online booking:

It may well be possible to use Uber or other ride-sharing services - I don't have experience of this, and the situation is likely to be volatile, since there are ongoing legal and regulatory disputes about new models in London and the UK.


Please check on whether you need a visa; if so, email Alan Blackwell ( if you require a letter. We will only provide letters for those who (1) have a fully paid registration for the conference, and (2) either have a paper accepted for presentation at the conference or are known to members of the organizing committee.